ABOUT THE CAUSE:

43% of all children’s deaths under the age of five are preventable

Statistics / Introduction:

The functions of medical camps will differ from country to country or even region to region.  Existing clinics are under staffed and function without basic equipment, medicines and resources needed to treat fully care for their patients.  There are many areas of the world where medical care is simply a luxury that most can not afford resulting in increase health issues, disease, child mortality and preventable death.

The highest rates of child mortality continue to be found in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2008, one in seven children there died before their fifth birthday; the highest levels were in Western and Central Africa, where one in six children died before age five (169 deaths per 1,000 live births).  All 34 countries with under-five mortality rates exceeding 100 per 1,000 live births in 2008 are in sub-Saharan Africa, except Afghanistan.

Four diseases—pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria and AIDS— accounted for 43 per cent of all deaths in children under five worldwide in 2008. Most of these lives could have been saved through low-cost prevention and treatment measures, including antibiotics for acute respiratory infections, oral rehydration for diarrhoea, immunization, and the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and appropriate drugs for malaria. The need to refocus attention on pneumonia and diarrhoea—two of the three leading killers of children—is urgent. The use of new tools, such as vaccines against pneumococcal pneumonia and rotaviral diarrhoea, could add momentum to the fight against these common diseases and provide an entry point for the revitalization of comprehensive programming. Ensuring proper nutrition is a critical aspect of prevention, since malnutrition increases the risk of death.

Medical camps in rural communities are a vital first step in the education, treatment and elimination of preventable deaths.

Health Care: Field Studies

The Dominican Republic

In the capital city of the Dominican Republic there stands a beacon of light that draws hurting people. The beacon is a hospital called CURE International; the light is the professional team of doctors and staff that treat the deformed and maimed. Children coping with deformity and disfigurement are transformed and healed by the skill of men, the use of medicine and the touch of God.

The majority of these patients are children like Jose. Jose is a MegaCARE child. MegaCARE sponsors children round the world assisting them and their parents to help improve their quality of life. Jose is 15 years old and was introduced to MegaCARE by the staff of CURE International. Jose thought he was a normal, growing, active boy until just a few years ago. It seems his left leg was growing much faster than his right leg. At the age of 13, he began to suffer from much pain and could no longer walk properly. In order to be mobile Jose would use a chair as a walker. Eventually, the pain was too intense to walk and family members had to carry him like a small child.

Jose was not a stranger to pain and indifference. Ten years earlier, he had lost his father in an auto accident. Taken in by a distant relative he found a place of love and a sense of family. The family lives in a rural area called Barranca. When Jose could no longer tolerate the pain, his family gathered what little money they had and brought him to a local hospital.

The news was devastating. The doctors informed the family that surgery could correct the problem. However, the procedure was expensive and could not be done until Jose was ten years older. Jose and his family had accepted the fact that even if he could stand the pain for another ten years there still would be no funds for the surgery.

With the help of our partners, MegaCARE accepted Hosea as a candidate for our MegaCARE’s Children Program. Jose’s surgery was paid for in full. He celebrated his birthday in the hospital on the day of his surgery. Jose stated, “I received a miracle on my birthday. This is the best day of my life”.

Our MegaCARE team visited Jose and his family four days after his surgery, and this is their report:

We met with Pastor Samuel Reyes. He is a Chaplin, and follows up on many of the patients that are discharged from the hospital. Pastor Samuel volunteers to take our team to the house where Jose and his family live. We travel for about an hour and a half from the city center until we leave the paved road. A gravel road curves around fields of sugar cane and farms until it leads to a rural farming area called Barranca.

As we arrive at the farm house, the family greets us with smiles. A small plate of cheese and crackers are offered to show loving hospitality. It is obvious that this is their best to offer to their new guests. The mother of the house whispers directives as family members set chairs out in the front of the house so we can visit. They are very excited to tell us the story about Jose’s miracle. Jose, now on crutches cannot stop smiling as he tells us that his pain is gone. Jose and his family share their deep appreciation for providing a surgery that would not be possible for a struggling family to finance. As we prepare to leave the family is sad that their new friends can’t stay longer. Jose grabbed his crutches and walks us to the car to show us how much he has improved since his surgery. Everyone waves good bye as we move toward our next mission.

To Give Thanks – The story of Lebo

Thinking back to my first trip to South Africa, I can remember the excitement of the day sitting on the plane right before take off.  Looking out the window in anticipation, tears begin rolling down my cheeks.  Overwhelmed by my thoughts of traveling to a place that I never knew God would send me, I begin thanking God for the wonderful opportunity.  I had no idea what to expect on this trip or what God had in mind for me to see and experience.  As I begin to pray silently on the plane God started dealing with me about staying neutral.   During my prayer the Lord showed me how an artist works off of a blank canvass to create a beautiful masterpiece.  The artist begins the process by picking up a paint brush to create the picture and with every gentle stroke of his brush the beautiful masterpiece is revealed.  In my heart I knew the Lord wanted to reveal who I was through his eyes but much to my surprise God had a more beautiful picture waiting for me in South Africa.

As the MegaCARE team arrived at MegaFest we quickly assumed our assigned positions.  Each team member had been given an assignment and my assignment was to work the prayer station.  The prayer station was an area where people could receive prayer either before or after they were to receive certain medical screenings and/or treatments.  While standing at my station, I wrestled with my own self doubt and feelings of how to pray for individuals who were about to be tested for HIV/AIDS.  The mere thought of someone’s dreams being shattered by a positive test result became overwhelming to me.  I began praying to God for direction and realizing that without Him I would be over my head. While praying I noticed three young ladies walking across the room laughing and innocently joking with one another.  These young girls seemed carefree in their play which caused me to think back to the time of what it was like being that age again.  In all my ignorance, I thought to myself that these young girls are probably waiting on a parent or just curious about the medical camp.
The girls begin to quickly walk in my direction as the one leading the pack made direct eye contact with me.  Now standing before me was a beautiful young South African girl with big beautiful brown eyes and a smile that could light up a room.  Lebo which I later found out meant to give thanks was her name.  This little beauty couldn’t have been more than 13 years of age.  Lebo’s two friends stood behind her whispering to each other and refused to make eye contact with me.  I thought this was strange.  The laughter now silenced by tears, Lebo began telling me how she was once a Christian who loved Jesus very much but didn’t believe Jesus would ever forgive her for what she had done.  “I’m so ashamed and I believe he is punishing me now”, Lebo said.  Looking at the little girl standing before me I could see the pain and heartache she had been carrying.  I wrapped my arms around Lebo and softly explained God’s grace in a way that a child could understand and how special she is in God’s eyes.  Lebo’s two friends walked up and asked her if she told me what happened.  I asked Lebo if there was something that she needed to tell me and she began to cry even harder.  Her two friends were crying and holding her hand which made me think that they were involved or knew something tragic about Lebo.  Lebo looked at me and told me how she had met an older boy who she thought loved her but had rejected her after having sex.  She explained how she felt pressured by him to have sex because the young man told Lebo that if she truly loved him then she would freely give him her gift of virginity.  Lebo not only lost her innocence to the young man, but she later found out that she had sex with someone who knew they were infected with full blown AIDS.

The fear of being exposed to this deadly virus had become overwhelming.  All the laughter was a mere mask to the harsh reality of the pain and heavy burden that she was carrying.  Her friends confessed how they had been sleeping with multiple partners and were afraid that they had exposed themselves to HIV/AIDS. I remember feeling completely helpless and wishing I could somehow take back or reverse things for these children.  The reality was that this was completely of my control.   After counseling the young girls I was led to introduce them to Jesus.  I asked each one if they would like to renew their relationship with the Lord and all agreed.  After gently walking them through the process, we all prayed to Jesus and asked Him for protection, mercy and God’s healing power to overtake them. Lebo and her friends now wiping away their tears looked at me and took me by the hand and asked if I could stay with them for their test results.  I was honored that they would ask me to be apart of something so sensitive.  Here I was a married woman from America who had never had the opportunity to have a child of my own, now in South Africa feeling like a mother for the first time in my life to children whom I just met.  As each girl walked into their designated tents I stood outside praying and asking God for total restoration within each of their bodies.  A fellow team member observed what was happening and began to pray along side me when one by one each girl walked out of their tent crying and jumping for joy.  Each test had come back negative to the exposure of the virus.  As we hugged and cried tears of joy, God showed me that the artist had completed His beautiful masterpiece of three beautiful South African young ladies whose eyes shined with hope and dreams for tomorrow.

SectioHaiti Follow-Up: Kebbi – A mother’s expression of loven

MegaCARE continues to support survivors and our partners affected by the Haiti earthquake from January 12th, 2010.  Recently MegaCARE sent a team to follow-up and support our partners based in the Dominican Republic who were instrumental in providing first responders, emergency medical care and provide continued care to victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.  Our team delivered and procured additional medical equipment, supplies and resources while working with children, family members and staff members who are serving these survivors each and every day to help them put their lives back together.

The 2010 earthquake claimed over 316,000 lives with countless others injured.  Today there are thousands of children who were not able to seek medical attention and now living with unset bones, wounds that have not fully healed and carry the scars of that tragic day.  This is the story of a young girl named Kebbi who we meet while in country:

On January 16th, four days after the tragic earthquake of 2010, teams of rescue workers were digging through tons of debris throughout Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  A young rescue worker was tired; his muscles ached but he was committed to finding survivors as he pressed on throughout the night.  The young man continued removing debris when he saw some movement in the rubble.  He peered through the darkness with his flashlight at what appeared to be a person.  He continued removing bricks, rebar and pieces of tin until he could finally discern a young lady was pinned underneath the debris.  His heart started pounding as he yelled, “We’ve found one!” to his fellow workers.  “Mademoiselle!  Mademoiselle we are coming!” he said to the lady lying before him.  Other members of the rescue team now rallied to his call as they started removing debris from her body.  The young rescue worker knelt by her side and took her hand, “We’re here to help” but there was no response.  “Mademoiselle…Mademoiselle…I’m here.  We’re going to get you out just hang in there for me” still no response.  Seconds seemed like an eternity as he held and squeezed her cold, bruised and limp hand.  He desperately felt for a pulse or some sign that she knew he was there as the other workers continued to remove debris.  With each anxious moment it became more and more evident, she was not going to respond.
Thoughts ran through the young rescue workers head, “Maybe I’m just tired.  Maybe I wanted to see movement.  I thought surely I saw something.”   His heart ached as he gently placed her fragile hand back down to the ground just as the other workers removed the last pieces of debris from her body.  They all paused at that moment.   Each one looking at the other; there were no words to describe the emotions they felt.  They could see it in each other’s eyes.  They all simply bowed their heads in silence as they knew the earthquake had claimed yet another victim.

The silence was broken with a muffled groan as there was movement from underneath the rubble.  The young man opened his eyes to see a small hand covered in dust protruding from underneath the body.  One worker said, “Did you hear that?” as another said “…look there; to her right side!”  The team lifted the woman’s lifeless body to find a young girl underneath.  The child’s head was injured.  Her lips were stammering as she gasped for air, but she was alive!  They quickly pulled her from the debris with cheers and applauses.  “We found a survivor!  We found a little girl!” exclaimed the young rescue worker as he carried her out of the rubble.

We later learned this young girl’s name is Kebbi and that her mother pulled her near and laid on top of her as the earth shook and ceiling began to fall on that dreadful day.  Kebbi’s mother’s final thoughts were of protection as she threw her body on top of her baby girl in what would be a mother’s last expression of love.

Now four days later, a mother’s un-selfish sacrifice provided enough shelter to protect her child’s life.  Kebbie was rushed to a nearby field hospital where MegaCARE partners along with other medical teams were providing triage to hundreds of patients in a make-shift field hospital.  This was the same field hospital who received one of two anesthesia machines, medical supplies and a water purification system from MegaCARE to continue their medical efforts.  Tremors continued to rattle the city making it unsafe to go inside the battered facility thus tents and canopies provided the only shelter for doctors and patients.  Quickly the medical teams stabilized Kebbi’s injuries and placed her arm in a sling.  Kebbi had suffered what they deemed was a broken arm, cracked skull, several lacerations and a nearly severed ear, but she was going to survive.

In the coming days, she was reunited with her father who fought back tears of pain for the loss of his wife while being overcome with joy for finding his only daughter.  Kebbi remained in the field hospital for a couple of weeks before receiving a referral to our partner’s children’s hospital in the Dominican Republic.  Shortly thereafter, Kebbi and her father went to live with relatives in the Dominican Republic so she could receive the proper medical attention she needed.

She was admitted into the children’s hospital where she initially clung to her father and refused to allow the physician or nurses to examine her.  Still traumatized she did not want to leave her father’s sight, but though time, patience and love the surgeons, nurses and counselors were able to make tremendous progress with her to begin her healing process.

Now a year later, Kebbi has undergone several surgeries to repair tendons in her elbow and hand with continued care for her forehead and ear.  MegaCARE’s team recently worked with the hospital staff, counselors, and patients while distributing aid, coloring books and encouragement to the children of the hospital. We had the privilege to meet little Kebbi and interview the surgeon who performed her operations to learn more about this beautiful young child who’s walked such a tragic and painful path.  The surgeon stated, “Kebbi is one of the lucky ones in that she still has use of all four of her extremities”.  He also shared that she is expected to make a full recovery with continued rehabilitation, and her future is promising although her journey is long from over.  She will carry both physical and emotional scars from that tragic day for the rest of her life.

It’s a blessing to see how support through donations, service, sacrifice and partnerships can make a difference in a young child’s life.  MegaCARE thanks all who were involved and played a vital role in Kebbi’s story.  From the rescue workers, triage doctors, nurses, surgeons, counselors and MegaCARE supporters who helped fulfill Kebbi’s mother’s last expression of love, your compassion and support have enabled Kebbi to live and one day have a family of her own.

Partnering to empower communities worldwide is more than a slogan; it a concerted effort to help hurting people.  Thousands of children did not survive the 2010 earthquake and there are still thousands of children in need today.  Your continued support of MegaCARE enables us to help hurting people through humanitarian aid, medical initiatives, education, empowerment and continued relationships with our partners to empower and changes lives around the world.

Thank you for caring and making a difference in the lives of children like Kebbi.